For the C5 chassis, there was a major change in that the popular S6 sedan was discontinued in the United States. In its place, you got to choose from a few options; if you had to have a S6, Audi would oblige but only in wagon form in 2002/2003 with the S6 Avant. If you had to have a S sedan, your option was to wait until the 2003 twin turbo RS6 launched and pay a serious premium over a standard A6. But Audi had two spiritual successors to the C4 S6. First, you could get the twin turbocharged 2.7T V6 in the A6 sedan and it could be had with a 6-speed manual. A little heavier than the C4 but with a bit more power, performance was very close to the legendary turbo 5. But few remember that there was a 4.2 V8 option on the C4 S6 in Europe as well, and you could even specify your S6 with (gasp!) an automatic transmission. Audi recreated this package as well in the new C5 A6 4.2 quattro, and to make it a bit more special it was given some S6 details. The 4.2, for example, sported lighter aluminum fenders and hood, along with an aluminum front subframe to match it’s alloy V8. A full 1.4″ longer and with 3.5″ of additional track over the standard A6, the 4.2 also gained the door blades that would later be seen on the S cars. It was the defacto S6 sedan that was never offered, though the 300 horsepower V8 was down on power to the S6 motor and only 2/3s the power of the later twin-turbo RS6. Despite the special aspects the A6 4.2 doesn’t seem to enjoy as much as cult following as either the S6 Avant or the A6 2.7T 6-speed. I’ve rounded up two 4.2s to consider today; one with a manual swap and another with quite low mileage. Which is the winner?
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If you follow these pages, neither the names RS4 or Avant should be particularly new to you. Audi’s B5 generation fast wagon wasn’t the first to wear the RS badge, but it was the first fully quattro GmbH RS car. In the spirit of the RS2 built in conjunction with Porsche and the S6 plus which moved production in house to the quattro GmbH subsidiary, Audi utilized the VAG group acquisition of Cosworth to up the boost on the twin-turbocharged V6 to produce the best part of 400 horsepower. But while the RS2 and S6 plus had rather discrete changes outside to signify how special they were, the RS4 added vents, slats, big flares and giant wheels to back up the added performance. It was the change that launched a thousand dreams, as countless B5 S4 owners attempted to recreate the package that wasn’t brought to the U.S.. A few have made it here through back channels and we’ve written up previously the huge premium they command over regular S4s, but the newer generations of performance cars have dimmed the concentration on the older wonder Audis. Still, even today the RS4 is a pretty potent performance machine and getting closer to being legally importable to the U.S.. But of course our neighbors to the north have more lax importations laws, so RS4s are making their way into Canada as we speak. Additionally, really good examples of the regular S4 Avants are drying up as well. Today, I have an interesting comparison – a just imported, low mileage RS4 Avant versus a fully upgraded, low mileage S4 Avant – likely one of the nicest in the U.S.. What’s the difference in value today?
CLICK FOR DETAILS: 2001 Audi RS4 Avant on Autotrader Canada
Recently I relayed to the group that a family member had bought a 2004 Audi S4 Avant 6-speed. It was with some excitement and trepidation that this car actually came into the family; after a long search through seemingly countless cars, my cousin finally found one that looked right. It was a silver over silver/black Alcantara 6-speed with just over 100,000 miles. 2004 isn’t the preferred year of the S4 Avant, nor does it have the reputation as being the most reliable Audi ever produced – but overall, it was priced right for what it was and he dived in. There were some exterior condition problems, though, and I offered my assistance with a detailed refresh; I thought it would help to show how you could take a reasonable but not exceptional example of a nice car and make it look pretty special. So, starting with a rather tired and tatty exterior, I dove in: